MPs launch inquiry into ‘green watchdog’ plan

MPs have launched an inquiry into government plans for an environmental watchdog after the UK leaves the EU.

Defra wants to replace the role of the European Commission and European Court of Justice in enforcing rules on air, waste, water pollution and protecting wildlife.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said it wanted to scrutinise the proposals – and Defra plans to bring the EU’s environmental principles into UK law.

See also: Gove’s ‘green watchdog’ plan under fire

Defra says the body will provide independent scrutiny and advice on government policy – and will be able to hold the government to account on environmental legislation.

But landowners and environmental campaigners have both raised questions about the plan.

Confusion and complexity

The Country Land and Business Association said the plans risked adding confusion and complexity rather than genuine accountability to environmental policy.

Committee chairman Mary Creagh said ministers must ensure that the environment, wildlife and the ability to hold the government to account on air pollution must not be lost after Brexit.

“The new watchdog will not be ready in time for exit day in March 2019, and Green groups have criticised the proposed watchdog as toothless,” she said.

High standards

“We will be looking closely at whether the government’s proposals live up to its promises to keep high environmental standards after leaving the EU.”

The committee’s investigation will build on the written and oral evidence taken during its inquiry on the government’s 25-year plan for the environment.

Ms Creagh said the committee welcomed further written submissions on any of the issues raised by the government’s consultation on its plans to establish a new environmental watchdog.

Submissions should be made by 5 pm on Friday 1 June so the committee can conclude its inquiry in time to report before the government’s consultation closes on 2 August 2018.

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